Philip Hammond has defended his decision to give schools £400 million to buy “little extras” rather than provide money for new teachers.
Yesterday’s Budget allocated an average of £10,000 for primaries, and £50,000 for secondaries, to purchase what the chancellor called “that extra bit of kit that would make such a difference”.
His reference to the funding allowing schools to buy “little extras” provoked anger and ridicule.
Asked on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning what he meant by the phrase, he said: “For example, if a school needs to buy a couple of whiteboards or some laptop computers, or something like that, having a cheque for £50,000, I would have thought, would be quite useful for most schools.”
The chancellor said the £400m allocation was “something quite different” to wider decisions about school funding, adding: “Because we have had such low borrowing this year, we were able to spend some money in-year, one-off – money that will not be repeated in future years.
“It’s nothing to do with mainstream schools funding. It’s nothing to do with the broader questions around spending.”
Ahead of the Budget, education unions called for Mr Hammond to reverse real-terms cuts to schools, and provide new Treasury money.
But when presenter Nick Robinson said schools would have found money for teachers “a damn sight more useful” than money for “little extras”, Mr Hammond said decisions about wider school funding would be taken in next year’s spending review.
He said: “When you hire a teacher you have to pay them every year, year after year after year, and to do that you need a properly constructed spending settlement, which we will do in the spending review.”